This time of year, it seems as though materialism is ratcheted up a notch. Kids see toys everywhere, and they are encouraged to ask Santa Claus and just about everyone else for more things — things that they probably don’t need.
If you are concerned about how materialism is creeping into your family life during this time of year, here are a few strategies to limit the manifestation of the “gimmies” during the holiday season:
Start Holiday Traditions that Don’t Focus on Things
Consider family activities like shopping for a tree, putting up decorations, baking cookies, or going ice skating. Ask your parents and grandparents what they did during the holiday season, and consider adopting some of those traditions and practices. From creating ornaments for the tree to singing holiday songs, consider ways that you can enjoy the holidays while emphasizing family togetherness and making memories. There’s no need to make it about the stuff.
Encourage Community Service and Giving
Consider age-appropriate community service activities and giving opportunities. Have your children help you gather up canned food to take to the food pantry. If there is an Angel tree or giving tree in your community, have your child pick something off the tree and then help you provide a needed item for someone else. Encourage your children to go through their toys and clothes during the holiday season and choose some to donate to the local charity thrift shop. There are a number of ways that your children can get involved in giving to others and focusing on helping, even if its encouraging him or her to take a dollar out of his or her piggy bank and put it in a collection bucket.
Have a Homemade Holiday
Rather than buy everything, put together a homemade holiday in which your family members give gifts they make themselves. This doesn’t have to be things, either. Children can give “coupons” that allow others to ask them for help with chores, or for some other purpose. There are a number of fun, thoughtful, homemade crafts and ideas online. Encourage your children to personalize their gifts to others, and put some thought into the giving part of the holiday season.
One of the best ways to take the focus of material things is to express gratitude for what you already have. Getting in the habit of being thankful for the things you already enjoy is a good way to take the focus off of stuff during the holiday season. Make it a point to express gratitude during the holiday season. Tell your kids in the morning to think about something they are thankful for during the day. Tell them to watch for it, and then be ready to share it around the table. Being able to look for things to be glad of can put your child in a mindset to be contented, and to not always be thinking about things he or she wants.
What are some of your best ideas for limiting materialism during the holiday season?